Dieting and the development of eating disorders in overweight and obese adults

Susan Z. Yanovski, Charles J. Billington, Leonard H. Epstein, Norma J. Goodwin, James O. Hill, F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, Barbara J. Rolls, Judith S. Stern, Thomas A. Wadden, Roland L. Weinsier, G. Terence Wilson, Rena R. Wing, S. Van Hubbard, Jay H. Hoofnagle, James Everhart, Barbara Harrison

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

142 Scopus citations


We reviewed articles evaluating the relations among dieting, weight loss treatment, weight cycling, eating disorders, and psychological functioning in overweight and obese adults. Moderate caloric (energy) restriction, in combination with behavioral weight loss treatment, does not seem to cause clinically significant binge eating in overweight adults without preexisting binge eating problems and might ameliorate binge eating, at least in the short term, in those reporting recurrent binge eating before treatment. Most studies of behavioral weight loss interventions report improvements in psychological status during weight loss. However, these improvements might return to baseline with weight regain. Weight cycling does not seem to be associated with clinically significant psychopathologic conditions, although results of cross-sectional studies show an association between weight cycling and binge eating, as well as poorer perceived health status. 'Nondieting' approaches seem to lead to improvements in mood and self-esteem; however, weight loss is generally minimal. Concerns that dieting induces eating disorders or other psychological dysfunction in overweight and obese adults are generally not supported by empirical studies. Such concerns should not preclude attempts to reduce caloric intake and increase physical activity to achieve modest weight loss or prevent additional weight gain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2581-2589
Number of pages9
JournalArchives of Internal Medicine
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 25 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Internal Medicine


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